With no schools, libraries, coffee shops, nor other places students have historically gone to find their peace due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, this can be an extremely difficult time to study or otherwise self-educate. Some folks are lucky enough to have a place to themselves, but for most students, coronavirus lockdowns equate to being stuck with roommates or family members, and not having the space needed to truly focus on education.
Here are some tips for students and educators of all levels to help make a place of quarantine be as productive a venue as the aforementioned schools, libraries, etc. were before COVID-19 caused everything to change.
The job of teaching is no less difficult than the job of learning during quarantine, especially for students who don’t have some capabilities that others have. Whether it be due to income, a disability, or ESL barriers, closing the achievement gap for these students is more important (and more difficult) now than ever before.
Preparing materials with universal design in mind best suits the largest group of students. This means preparing materials that all students can access equally, regardless of whether or not they speak the same language as the educator, or have the same sensory abilities as their fellow students (e.g., blindness, deafness, etc.). These students used to have campus resources to help them, now they do not.
First, determine the needs of all your students, then utilize translation software and create materials that can be read, heard, or viewed, rather than just read. This is a shortlist of examples, but depending on your students’ needs, universal design is achievable in distance learning by defining your audience, utilizing software, and creating materials accordingly.
High School Students
Most college students are used to being home in the middle of the day for at least a few hours between classes, but for high schoolers, being home all morning while staying in a healthy mental state for learning is a brand new experience.
To maintain this mindset, creating a home learning environment that mimics school is the most important step. Sticking to schedule without a bell is easier said than done, but it’s a great first step in creating a positive learning environment from home. Other things that may seem silly but have been proven to work are dressing like you would go to school, eating similar lunches, and even pretending teachers are still looking at you (put that phone away!). Don’t forget about recess and physical education, though, as it is important to have a nice balance of work and recreation to maintain that healthy mental state.
The home environment setup mentioned in the previous section is just as important for college students as it is high schoolers, but most college students have worked from home in some capacity, long before the coronavirus made it a necessity. Finding resources that were historically at the university library is pretty easy with the world wide web, but ensuring sources are credible is much more difficult. Some quick tips for credibility include:
· Publication information – does your source have a listed author(s) and a publication date?
· Sources within your potential source – does your source list references for the information it is conveying?
· Website info – Is the site well-put-together? Does it look professional? And is it a .gov or .edu site? .coms can be credible too, but require a closer look than .gov and .edu sites.
· Writing style – If it doesn’t read like something your professors would assign, it’s probably not worth your time.
Ultimately, this too shall pass, and if remote learning is really causing issues with your educational practices, the best thing you can do is utilize the plethora of homeschool resources that exist online, and keep an eye at the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Things will be back to normal sooner than later!